Belmont farmer says insurnace won't begin to cover loss of historic barn & contents

BELMONT — Everett Weeks Jr. calls himself the "Last of the Mohicans", meaning he is one of the last family farmers left in town.

When a two-alarm fire destroyed his hay and pig barn Sunday afternoon, he also realized he was under-insured.

"I just talked to my insurance agent. They're not going to give me enough to rebuild the barn," Weeks said yesterday morning.

Fire Chief Dave Parenti agreed the barn was a total loss. He said the fire was reported by a passerby who noticed flames coming from the Route 140/Depot Road farm about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

He said when the lieutenant arrived and saw that a small house occupied by one of Week's employees was about 20 feet from the burning barn, he went immediately to a second alarm and used his first hoses to build a wall of water between the barn and the small house.

Parenti said there are two fire hydrants on either side of the barn and crews were able to tap into both of them, allowing them to get water on the fire immediately.

The problem, said Parenti, is once 2,000 bales of hay get burning it's nearly impossible to put them out. He also said the barn had two roofs — one made of metal atop one made of wood. That meant it initially took a little while for the ladder truck to begin getting water on top of the fire.

He said there was a backhoe just down the road and one the fire was under control, a backhoe operator kept breaking apart the bales and the fire department would put water on them.

Route 140 was closed for about six hours and firefighters remained there until just after 6 p.m. Around midnight, Parenti said firefighters returned to the barn to douse some bales that had rekindled.

The second time, Parenti said firefighters were there for about 90 minutes. He said yesterday that were rain not in for forecast today, he would probably have sent crews over yesterday to re-wet everything.

He said he knows the fire started in the rear-most corner of the barn that is away from the small house, but doesn't know what caused it. He said the barn has electrical service but Weeks hasn't turned it on for the season yet.

Weeks said he was very grateful that firefighters were able to save the small house.
He said his grandfather bought the farm for his father in 1902 and he thinks the barn dated from the late 1800s.

"I was born here 77-years-ago," Weeks said.

While weeks estimated the barn and it's contents — about 2,000 bails of hay and some equipment — to be worth a about $2,000,000, he said his insurer disagrees.

"I just hope they let me tear it down," he said, fearing that because its a historic building, the town won't let him.

Weeks said he stored hay and summer vegetables in that barn — he has two more — and also raised pigs. He said he hadn't bought his piglets yet and likely wouldn't buy any this year.

"I didn't really make any money on them anyway," he said.

Weeks said he will continue haying, growing vegetable, and raising laying chickens and selling the eggs.

"I'm the last one," said Weeks. "I'm the oldest on this street."